SIA headed the wrong direction

I refer to Singapore Airlines' recent initiative to tap digital technology, which is what it feels is needed to "reclaim its position as the world's best carrier" (SIA taps tech to lift customer service, operations; Jan 30).

This initiative and other recent measures, such as the attempt to impose a credit card fee on bookings by some travellers departing Singapore and the auto-inclusion of insurance fees, lead me to feel that SIA has gone in a wrong direction.

If budget were not a concern, I dare say that most, if not all, Singaporeans would want to fly with their national carrier.

We are proud of its standing as one of the top carriers in the world.

One important factor that made it great was the Singapore Girl and what she stood for: service, grace and the feel of being pampered - even in economy class.

The top quality in-flight entertainment system, punctual flights and clean planes helped, but all those were secondary.

It was also simple to book a ticket.

Queues at its airport counters moved along swiftly and efficiently.

There was a friendly face at each important stage of the journey.

However, in recent times, many other carriers have started making strides in service levels and the quality of amenities, seats and meals on board.

At the same time, my view is that SIA has been slipping in standards in terms of the flight and booking experiences.

For instance, the number of in-flight crew members appears to have dropped and those remaining often appear stressed and overworked.

The recent attempts to slap on additional charges and slip in a fee or two strike me as stunts commonly seen on more "budget" airlines, and can drive loyal customers away.

SIA needs to act promptly and go back to what made it great: the wonderful flying experience.

Service, the human touch and the entire experience from the moment we book a flight are what differentiate a good airline from another. Make your customer feel welcome, regardless of what class he is flying.

Peter Loon

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2018, with the headline SIA headed the wrong direction. Subscribe